Our maritime injury lawyers represent individuals who are hurt working on ships, vessels, oil rigs, docks and in other maritime capacities. If you’ve been hurt while on or near the waters, you may have a right to receive financial compensation.
However, the process to claim compensation is different than it is for people who are hurt on land. If you’re hurt while working on the seas, traditional workers’ compensation laws may not apply. Our maritime injury lawyers are well-versed in the special laws and procedures that apply to these claims. Let our lawyers represent you to bring your claim and maximize your compensation.
Maritime Injury Claims
What is a maritime injury claim?
If you are hurt while working on the seas, a maritime injury claim may allow you to claim financial compensation. There are special laws that apply to maritime cases.
The claims process for maritime injury is different than with traditional workers’ compensation claims. In addition, the compensation that a victim can receive is more expansive than what they may receive for claims pursued under state workers compensation laws.
Types of accident claims our maritime injury lawyers handle
Let us help you with any of the following types of accidents:
- Injuries while working on a ship
- Transportation of goods by sea
- Docked ships
- Oil platform, jack-up rig accidents, fixed platforms
- Tug boats
- Commercial fishing
- Commercial diving
- Passenger transport
- Deck accidents
- Shipyard accidents
However your work brings you in contact with the sea, an injury may occur. Our lawyers can help you advocate for your rights and claim compensation.
What are the legal grounds for a maritime injury claim?
There are several bodies of law that may apply to a maritime injury claim, including:
Jones Act/Merchant Marine Act of 1920
The Jones Act is a United States law that regulates commercial shipping activity between U.S. ports. Employees who suffer work-related injuries benefit from the law, because it allows them to claim compensation in a personal injury action when they’re hurt while on the job. The claim may be heard in state or federal court.
Benefits are more expansive under the Jones Act than they are under most state workers’ compensation systems. They may include:
- Medical care (cure)
- Lost wages
- Cost of living during recovery (maintenance)
- Pain and suffering
- Future earning capacity
Punitive damages may be claimed if the injuries result form the willful and wanton disregard for the safety of employees.
The Jones Act applies for workers who meet the definition of a “seaman.” If the worker does not meet this definition, they may qualify to claim benefits under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act or the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.
Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LWHCA)
The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act allows the injured worker to claim medical expenses, lost wages, vocational rehabilitation costs and other benefits. The LWHCA applies in circumstances where the Jones Act may not apply like areas used for loading, building and repairing vessels.
Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA)
The Death on the High Seas Act allows families to claim compensation against a ship owner when they lose a loved one. The deceased must be a seaman who is killed in the line of duty. An amendment in 2000 added claims for some aircraft-related accidents.
Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA)
The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act allows injured workers who are covered under the Act to claim same benefits available under the LHWCA. The Act covers injuries that occur while the employee is working on the Outer Continental Shelf. The law covers many injuries on oil rigs and platforms.
Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims
Vessel owners may try to invoke the Limitation of Liability law as a defense to a claim. Passed in 1851, the law limits a vessel owner’s financial liability to the value of the vessel. The value is calculated at the end of the journey during which the injury occurs. A lawyer for maritime injuries can help you respond to this kind of defense if it is raised in your case. Questioning the defendant’s knowledge of the condition of the vehicle, adherence to safety standards and other misconduct may be used to defeat a defense raised under the Act.
State Personal Injury and Workers Compensation Laws
For some individuals in the maritime industry, state personal injury and workers compensation laws may apply to an injury claim. Examples may be clerical workers, data professionals, suppliers and vendors. If your claim falls under state laws, our lawyers can help you evaluate your options and pursue your rights to reach a fair outcome for your injuries.
Causes of maritime injuries
Ways maritime injuries occur include:
- Poor vessel maintenance
- Inadequate equipment maintenance, malfunctioning equipment
- Not having enough equipment or the right equipment
- Lack of training for employees
- Trying to work too quickly
- Too few employees or unqualified employees
- Working too many hours without rest
- Failing to provide personal protective equipment
- Not accounting for slick and unstable surfaces
- Continuing to work when signs of danger appear
- Electric failures
- Chemical explosions, fuel spills
- Repetitive tasks that lead to overuse strains
- Exposure to toxins and substances that cause occupational illness
- Unsafe living conditions
- Unseaworthiness of the vessel
These causes of maritime accidents are also examples of negligence – in these situations the accidents and injuries could have been avoided with more care and caution on the part of employers. These actions and failures may allow victims to claim financial compensation.
Examples of maritime injuries
The following common maritime injuries may deserve compensation:
- Concussion, traumatic brain injury, skull fracture
- Broken bones
- Bruising, internal bleeding
- Back pain and shoulder pain, whether chronic or sudden
- Organ damage
- Burns and scars
- Long-term occupational illness
- Amputation, loss of limb function
- Wrongful death
What is the burden of proof for a Jones Act claim?
The Jones Act allows a standard of proof that is easier to reach than most negligence actions for injury. The standard is only whether employer negligence played any part in producing the injury. Even the slightest contribution to the accident and injuries is sufficient for the victim to receive compensation.
*It is important to have expert testimony to prove causation of injuries.
How can a lawyer help me with a maritime injury case?
A lawyer can help you with the many tasks needed to make a complex maritime case successful. They may assist with:
- Determining what court has jurisdiction over the case; state or federal court may be appropriate
- Evaluating the facts to determine which law applies
- Understanding the categories of compensation that may apply to ensure that the claim is complete for a fair amount of damages
- Reporting the accident as needed while avoiding any admissions of wrongdoing
- Investigating to determine the cause of the accident and evaluating negligence of the employer
- Working with expert witnesses to prove the causation of injuries and damages
- Strategically managing the case including settlement negotiations
- Conducting hearings and trials as needed to advance your claim
What is the statute of limitations for a Jones Act claim?
There is a three-year statute of limitations for a claim under the Jones Act.
Our lawyers for maritime injuries can help you understand how the time deadline may impact your case.
Maritime Wrongful Death
If you have lost a loved one because of a maritime accident, surviving family may bring a claim. Maritime laws allow for a wrongful death action when the employee is killed because of the negligence of the employer or unseaworthiness of the vessel. The Jones Act, the Death on the High Seas Act and general maritime laws may allow surviving family to claim compensation. See Moragne v. States Marine Lines, Inc., 398 U.S. 375 (1970).
Maritime wrongful death damages may include:
- Loss of financial support
- The value of services to the household
- Burial expenses (if paid by the family)
- Lost care, companionship and guidance
- Benefits of employment like health insurance
It’s important to identify the correct body of law that applies to successfully make a claim. Our experienced lawyers for maritime wrongful death can assist you with the procedural aspects in bringing a claim on behalf of survivors.
Lawyers for Maritime Injuries Near Houston
At Haun Mena, our lawyers for maritime injuries near Houston have one goal in mind – to be different. Whether your case is large or small, you deserve fair treatment. It’s out goal to handle your case effectively and efficiently.
If you’re looking for the best lawyers for maritime injuries near you, we invite you to get to know us at Haun Mena. You get partner-level representation throughout your case. We’ll never pass your case off to an inexperienced associate. Communicate with us directly from start to finish.
Taking New Cases – Free Consultation
Your consultation with our lawyers is always free. Come to our offices or let us visit with you wherever it is convenient for you. Plus, you don’t have to worry about how to afford a lawyer – we take all the risk and accept a payment only when we succeed on your behalf.
The Haun Mena maritime injury lawyers are taking new cases right now. See how our experience can make the difference for you. Call us or send us a message to begin.